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FROM gets perfect surprise audit from IRS

Last week the Internal Revenue Service showed up unannounced and performed an audit on the free tax preparation services at Flat River Outreach Ministries. FROM announced later in the week that they received a perfect “100 percent” score from the IRS on the surprise audit.

“Two women came from the IRS on Tuesday [March 19],” said FROM/VITA volunteer Dianne LaWarre. “They were there for a couple hours during their visit. They asked a lot of questions and even reviewed a tax return. We got 100 percent. It was great. We were very pleased.”

The VITA sites are not audited every single year, only frequently enough to keep everybody on their toes. LaWarre said that this was only FROM's third surprise IRS audit in 11 years.

“I think the last time we were audited was three years ago, but they can show up anytime,” LaWarre said. “We didn't expect them at all. They're probably more particular with free sites like us than the paid businesses, so we were very proud of the results.”

“I observed this site as being organized and well-managed,” said the the audit report by IRS tax consultant Rhonda Terrell. “This was evident by the streamlined process you have in place for taxpayers signing in, waiting to be assisted and having a quality reviewer available.”

For over a decade, FROM and the United Way have offered free tax preparation in Lowell through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. FROM's 11 VITA tax preparers were trained by the IRS and have to re-certify every year.

VITA was created to guide taxpayers with family incomes of less than $66,000 per year through the tax preparation process. One does not have to live in the Lowell school district to participate, there are sites all over Grand Rapids in addition to the one at FROM. A typical appointment takes about 90 minutes, and all tax returns are checked over repeatedly to make sure there are no mistakes.

Participants should bring the following items to their VITA appointment:

1. Social Security card for each family member and picture ID for adults

2. W-2 form for all jobs worked in the previous year

3. 1099 forms for other income (including unemployment)

4. All forms 1095, health Insurance Statements

5. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) letter

6. Copy of your last year's tax return (if available)

7. Last year's heating bills (11/2017-11/2018)

8. Proof of rent or mortgage and property tax payments

9. Name and address of all landlords

10. Childcare provider's name, address and federal tax identification number

11. Blank, voiced check (to set up direct deposit of your refund)

12. Any other tax-related letters or document you have received (including letter from the Internal Revenue Service)

This year's income tax filing deadline is Monday, April 15. VITA appointments are currently available every Tuesday morning, afternoon and evening until April 9. Call the United Way at 211 or at 800-887-1107 to make a VITA appointment or for more information.

FROM is located at 11535 Fulton St. E. For more information about FROM, call 616-897-8260, find them online at or follow them on social media.

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